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A bolder face brings Mazda’s CX-5 back into the spotlight...

In the past, Mazda’s CX-5 was something of a fringe player in a compact SUV sphere where the Germans and Koreans hogged the limelight. But, more recently, sales figures have improved and the Mazda appears to have achieved the widespread acceptance it so richly deserved. Beneath styling that was neat but not overly dashing and a badge held by a company that was only just beginning to graze the surface of the car-buying public’s awareness after a period of near-anonymity, the previous CX-5 delighted us when we sampled it back in 2012.

While the composition of the compact SUV staples has changed little in the last five years, a recent injection of sporty, distinctive models by Mazda has boosted awareness of the brand globally. So, in keeping with its recent penchant for rolling out some eye-catching new metal, Mazda has given the CX-5 a bold update that should hopefully give it the attention it deserves.

Although we’d never describe the previous CX-5 as po-faced, in a segment defined by the classy angularity of the Tiguan and the bold swoopiness of the Koreans, the Mazda was always rather safe and subtle. While most midlife facelifts are often a case of a new headlamp lens cover here and a bit of chrome trim there, the bold cuts into the previous car’s gently profiled skin almost suggest that Mazda’s designers used a samurai sword in lieu of a spatula when working on the updated CX-5’s clay-model mock-up.

The gentle curve of the previous car’s nose has been chopped into a more bluff, purposeful form, highlighted by LED headlamps slashed along the apexes of a signature shield-shaped grille that’s bolder than that of its forebear. The rest of the exterior changes are subtler and comprise new LED elements in the brakelamps, a restyle of the front and rear aprons, and redesigned alloy wheels. It’s a reworking that finally gives the CX-5 the presence for which it’s been crying out.

It’s a similar story inside, where the major changes take place up front and taper off towards the tail. The chunky upper tier of the previous car’s dash has made way for a narrower, slim-line section that sees the infotainment system’s screen migrate from a facia recess to a freestanding panel on top, and there are hints of MX-5 about the stronger horizontal trim elements and dashing air-vent surrounds. There’s also a good degree of substance behind the sportier styling, with both build and material quality easily on par with that of its rivals.

However, while the sound of rattling trim isn’t an accompaniment to your journey’s soundtrack, the diesel engine’s boominess under hard acceleration is apparent. It’s an engine that hasn’t undergone any changes, still churning out a respectable 129 kW and 400 N.m. While the latter is a hearty lump of torque, the engine doesn’t possess that instant kick you feel in diesels with more than 350 N.m on tap; it’s more of a measured swell that spreads the torque over a wide rev range.

This is possibly an upshot of the low-compression ratio that’s a signature feature of Mazda’s SkyActiv diesel engines and a transmission that, although smooth, can be somewhat languid unless the throttle is mashed or the drivetrain-management module is nudged into its “hang-on-doggedly-to-every-gear” sport setting. The SkyActiv tech does, however, pay some dividends on the fuel-consumption front, with our mixed-route fuel run returning a respectable 7,2 L/100 km.

Dynamic engagement is an area in which the previous CX-5 eclipsed most of its peers, and with its fluid ride, an impressive chassis setup that controls body roll crisply during brisk changes in direction and steering that’s precise and pleasantly weighted, it remains one of the most rewarding compact SUVs to drive.

At about R560 000, the CX-5 occupies a similar pricing bracket to the likes of the Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Ford Kuga and the Volkswagen Tiguan. Normally sitting smack-bang among such accomplished and popular rivals is cause for concern, but in addition to being a well-resolved package, the Akera model wants for almost nothing in terms of standard specification. In addition to a raft of comfort and convenience features expected in most range-topping compact SUVs, the CX-5 throws such items as adaptive LED headlamps, head-up display and sat-nav into the mix.

To put this into context, equipping the 2,0 TDI 4Motion version of our current overall favourite compact SUV, the Volkswagen Tiguan, to specification comparable with that of the CX-5 sees the German vehicle’s asking price climb to an eye-widening R640 152. But it’s the standard fitment of such electronic safety nets as blind-spot and lane-departure warning, city-braking assist and lane-keeping assist – features relegated to optional extras or altogether unavailable on most rivals – that lends the CX-5 even greater appeal to buyers with families.

If there is one area where the Mazda concedes some standard-feature ground, it’s the inclusion of a service plan that’s two years shy of its rivals’ five-year items. This is, however, offset to some degree by the fact that there’s no mileage limitation for the duration of the CX-5’s service plan.
Long-term test (Introduction): Mazda CX-5 2,2DE Akera AWD

If I had R10 for every time someone ooh’ed or stared dewy-eyed at the Soul Crystal Red paint adorning our new CX-5 long termer, there’s every chance I’d cash in and liberate the car from our fleet. Bold words so early in the Mazda’s tenure but, so far, the newcomer has really impressed. 

Although the second-generation model arrived on our market only in 2017, it’s already undergone an update, albeit a discreet one. Externally, there’s nothing new going on; there’s still that edgy Kodo design and that drool-worthy red paintwork, but there have been a couple of changes in the cabin. There’s some additional knurled brightwork surrounding the switchgear for the electric window controls and the previously fiddly HVAC control panel has been given a more intuitive interface. 

The big news, however, is the inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. Those familiar with the function-rich Android application will already know its inclusion on Google Play Store’s local menu is a fairly recent but most welcome development. 

Being familiar with the system in my previous Subaru XV long-termer, it’s interesting to see Mazda’s approach to its implementation. Where the Subaru’s interface was a purely touchscreen affair, instead, alongside the same functionality, the CX-5 also uses a centre console-mounted dial for the MDZ infotainment system to scroll through the menus. It’s not quite as intuitive as a well-configured touchscreen but, as a solution to the small infotainment screen and its faraway placement from the driver, it works well. 

Mazda has gone one better with the siting of the USB port for the Android Auto interface. Where most cars’ connections are clumsily sited in a tray on the lower dash, the CX-5’s is neatly tucked away in the centre cubby, out of sight and less likely to get tangled up with house keys and the like. But it’s not just the infotainment system which impresses. 

The 2,2-litre turbodiesel is a refined, punchy unit currently sipping 8,4 litres of derv every 100 km. I expect that figure to improve in the coming months. The CX-5 also possesses the inherent sportiness of its hatchback siblings, with pleasantly weighted steering and a supple chassis countering any mid-corner clumsiness and helping it serve up a smooth ride. 

If there is a blot in the CX-5’s otherwise clean ledger, it’s the stop/start system. It is a bit dull-witted at times, sometimes catching you out at a junction where nippiness off the mark is a must.

With a house move on the go and a couple of long trips lined up, the CX-5 has its work cut out. But the initial signs are great. 

After 1 month
Current Mileage:
438 km
Average fuel consumption:
8,42 L/100 km
We like:
handsome styling; Android Auto inclusion a boon
We don’t like:
clunky stop/start system

 Long-term test (Update 1) Mazda CX-5 2,2DE AWD Akera

When last we left the CX-5, a stern test of its practicality was about to take place with a house move. Looking at the Mazda’s sporty frame, you’d be forgiven for assuming load space would be far down its list of talents. However, folding the rear bench presents 1 224 litres of utility space in the shape of a level load bay, with felt lining the usually scuff- prone wheelarches. Along with the considerable shop for household essentials, a load comprising a 1,2-metre coffee table, two bedside cabinets and several boxes of oddments was easily accommodated. 


After 2 months
Current Mileage:
2 574 km
Average fuel consumption: 
8,13 L/100 km

2018 Mazda CX-5 2.2DE AWD Akera

Ref No: 1757331

Manufacturer Specifications

Standard - standard Optional - optional
  • Leather upholstery: Standard
  • Seats quantity: 5
  • Split rear seat: Standard
  • Folding rear seat: Standard
  • Air conditioning: Standard
  • Lumbar support adjustment: driver electric
  • Front armrests: Standard
  • Antilock braking system (ABS): Standard
  • Electronic brake distribution (EBD): Standard
  • Brake assist (BAS/EBA): Standard
  • Traction control: Standard
  • Stability control: Standard
  • Tyre pressure sensor monitor deflation detection system: Standard
  • Driver airbag: Standard
  • Front passenger airbag: Standard
  • Front side airbags: Standard
  • Curtain airbags: Standard
  • Airbag quantity: 6
  • Lane departure warning: std + lane keeping assist
  • Lane change blindspot warning assist monitor: Standard
  • Attention assist rest assist break alert: Standard
  • Automatic drive away locking: Standard
  • ISOFIX child seat mountings: outer rear
  • Directional turning headlights: LED
  • Adaptive headlights varying light distribution: LED
  • Start stop button: Standard
  • Engine auto Stop Start idle stop ecostop: Standard
  • Hillstart assist hillholder: Standard
  • Alloy wheelsrims: Standard
  • Power steering: Standard
  • Multifunction steering wheel controls: Standard
  • Head up display: Standard
  • On board computer multi information display: Standard
  • Navigation: Standard
  • Cruise control: Standard
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Standard
  • CD player: Standard
  • Aux in auxiliary input: Standard
  • USB port: front + rear
  • Central locking: keyless
  • Remote central locking: Standard
  • Key less access start hands free key: Standard
  • Electric windows: front + rear
  • Rain sensor auto wipers: Standard
  • Auto dim interior mirror: Standard
  • Electric adjust mirrors: Standard
  • Sun roof: Standard
  • Electric seat adjustment: driver
  • Daytime driving running lights: Standard
  • Light sensor auto on off lights: Standard
  • Xenon headlights: adaptive LED
  • Highbeam assist: Standard
  • Frontfog lamps lights: Standard
  • Highlevel 3rd brakelight: Standard
  • Camera for park distance control: rear
  • Rear spoiler: Standard
  • Metallic pearl escent paint: Optional
  • Fuel Type: diesel
  • Fuel range average: 1018 km
  • Driven wheels: all
  • Driven wheels quantity: 4
  • Gearratios quantity: 6
  • Gearshift: automatic
  • Transmission type: automatic
  • Electromechanical parking brake: Standard
  • Front tyres: 225/55 R19
  • Reartyres: 225/55 R19
  • Length: 4550 mm
  • Width excl mirrors incl mirrors: 1840-2115 mm
  • Height: 1680 mm
  • Wheel base: 2700 mm
  • Ground clearance minimum maximum: 185 mm
  • Turning circle wheels body: 11.8 m
  • Load volume / capacity: 442-1914 L
  • Load volume / capacity: 1914 L
  • Unladen/tare/kerb weight: 1733 kg
  • Gross weight (GVM): 2143 kg
  • Towing capacity - unbraked: 750
  • Towing capacity - braked: 1500
  • Fuel tank capacity (incl reserve): 58l
  • Fuel consumption average: 5.7 l/100km
  • CO2 emissions average: 148g/km
  • Emission control phase Euro EU level: 4
  • Power maximum: 140 kW
  • Power maximum total: 140 kW
  • Power peak revs: 4500 r/min
  • Power to weight ratio: 80.8 kW/ton
  • Torque maximum: 450 Nm
  • Torque peak revs: 2000 r/min
  • Torque maximum total: 450 Nm
  • Torque to weight ratio: 260 Nm/ton
  • Acceleration 0-100 kmh: 9.5s
  • Maximum top speed: n/a km/h
  • Engine position/ location: front
  • Engine capacity: 2191 cc
  • Engine size: 2.2l
  • enginedetailshort: 2.2TD
  • Engine + detail: 2.2 turbo diesel
  • Cylinder layout: inline
  • Cylinders: 4
  • Cylinder layout + quantity: i4
  • Valves quantity: 0
  • Turbocharger: Standard
  • Warranty time (years): 3
  • Warranty distance (km): unlimited km
  • Service plan: Standard
  • Service plan time (years): 3
  • Service plan time (distance): unlimited km
  • Roadside assistance time: 3
  • Service interval (distance): 15000 km
  • Brand: Mazda
  • Status: c
  • Segment: passenger car
  • MMcode: 43085153
  • MMVariant: CX-5 2.2DE AKERA A/T AWD
  • MMintrodat: 2018-04-01
  • Introdate: 2019-02-01
  • DuoportarecordID: MazdCX-5_2e19

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